Thursday, March 16, 2017

Knitting US Yarn

The last two posts have listed a number of projects that I knitted from stash.  There is still a little stash left to knit, but not much.  As I work my way through the last of my stash, I am developing a plan for replacements.  However, I only want to buy yarn that I will use right away--no more stashing!  Additionally, I want to focus on buying yarn produced by companies that I haven't "tried" previously.  One of the factors I am considering is origin.  I'd like to buy only yarn that is grown and spun in the United States.

To that end, I present:
Imperial Yarn's Denali

Yep, it's not very exciting to look at, but I hope it will make a light and versatile black cardigan.  I have been searching for a non-superwash yarn (I don't like the way superwashed yarn stretches out of shape) for the Newsom cardigan pattern.  I have been fascinated by this pattern for years.  From the first moment I saw it, I liked the unusual construction and feather-light garter stitch edges.  I have a black cotton cardigan that is looking a little over worn.  This will replace it.  The yarn is a soft, drapey, wool/alpaca blend sport weight by an American yarn company, Imperial Yarn.

Imperial Yarn is an Oregon-based company that is invested in the "American Wool Tradition."  Their yarn is available at their website and at retail dealers.  I bought this Denali from Webs, saving a bit due to their lower pricing and discounts.  That means my sweater will cost much less than it would if I had knit it with the yarn recommended for the Newsom pattern.
When I ordered the Denali, I found another U.S. sourced, milled and dyed yarn for a project I wanted to start, a ZickZack Scarf.  The pattern calls for a color-changing yarn with long color repeats.  Unfortunately, either I've chosen the wrong colors or the repeats are too long.

Freia Fine Handpaints Sport Weight

However, I may have found another pattern that will suit this yarn better, one that is cast on sideways so that the color repeats will change in a shorter, albeit vertical fashion.  I hope it works, because I really like this yarn.  It's light, fuzzy and fairly soft.  Also, it will look nice with a couple of shirts I often wear.

I found these two yarns while shopping on line.  It was easy to read the reviews and research the companies through Ravelry.  Since then, I have noticed that Ravelry is providing information, when possible, on the source of a yarn, including the country where the fiber was grown, the country where it was milled and the country where it was dyed.  I started to fave the ones I identified as sourced, milled and dyed in the U.S., but stopped after I found ten companies.  There's a lot of them--at least enough for me to shop through for this year.  Here's the 10 I found so far.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Dull Knitting

I've been doing more to improve my knitting than simply using up older stashed yarn. I have been trying to produce practical sweaters that I will wear often. Here's a catch-up listing of those, as proof that my knitting projects are not all brightly colored. As always, complete details are in my Ravelry projects. Most of these were knit in 2016.

Lifesavers Cardigan pattern, Tanis Blue Label yarn
I never thought I'd knit a sweater with fingering weight yarn, even though I bought it in Canada for that purpose.  Once I finished it, I found I like it. It is just warm enough and very comfortable.
Portage cardigan pattern, Zara yarn
This superwash yarn makes a heavier sweater.  It doesn't have buttons, so is wearable despite the weight.
Wanderling pattern, Elsa Wool fingering weight yarn
This is a fabulous yarn for a sweater, soft, warm, light and lovely to knit.  The pattern is cute, but the cables pull in, affecting the fit in the shoulders.  That's a small defect, though.  I love wearing this sweater.

Lightweight Raglan pattern, Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine yarn
Lovely pattern, good in this yarn, but would probably be better in a less elastic blend.  It is a practical sweater, simple and comfortable except for a small itchy spot in the front of the neck.  I can loosen the neckline a little--I tightened it up by shifting the stitches at the welt--or put in a facing in a softer yarn.
Yoke sweater of my own design using cvm yarn from local mill
This wool is very itchy, making it a challenge to design a sweater that I can wear comfortably.  I think it is a success but will know for sure after next winter. 

Gehry pattern, Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn
This sweater wasn't quite done when I took this photo, but it is completed now.  I have worn it, but wish I'd knit a smaller size.  The yarn is nice and light, but too itchy for me.

Truss pattern, Cascade Cloud yarn
This pattern is not as flattering as I thought it might be and the yarn is heavy. Still, it is a comfortable weight and goes with all my black and gray, as well as blue jeans.

Definitely Susan pattern, Madeline DK yarn, the single spun
Gosh, I love this.  It took me a couple of years to get around to knitting the scarf.  I'm so glad I finally made it because it makes the sweater a lot more fun to wear.  The yarn is superwash but the sweater is so small that it isn't heavy.  Or maybe the Tosh Merino DK is just a lighter spun yarn.

There they are, the sweater output brought up to speed.  I'm glad I listed them, as it points to an issue I've been ignoring for years.  I can't wear most wool comfortably.  I tried to buy more rustic yarn last year, but I found them more itchy than the superwash yarns I've bought in the past.  Since I'm tired of working with the way superwash stretches out of shape, I've concluded that I should explore (shock) acrylic or acrylic blends as well as confining my purchases to alpaca, merino, cormo, or other soft yarns.  Now that I've knitted up a backlog of sweater yarn and explored some of the new options, I can make my purchasing more practical, as I've done with my choice of colors and patterns. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Meaning of My 2016 Knitting

In 2016, a lot of my personal items were damaged by a flood.  This was a difficult time for me, emotionally and physically.  Of course, I kept knitting through the trashing, sorting, treating, cleaning, repairing and restoring that was required.  That I kept knitting, finishing up current projects and starting new ones didn't surprise me.  What surprised me was that I suddenly looked at my stash with new eyes. 

I had a few hanks of yarn that I had chosen for color.  These hanks were pleasant in appearance but overly bright and clashing when knitted up.  Suddenly, during the period immediately after seeing a lot of my personal items looking particularly dirty and soggy, these bright colors called to me.  Something I was never going to knit seemed like the ideal thing to knit.  That was how I discovered that knitting with yarn that is bright and maybe not so beautiful can be helpful in crisis.

Of course, I was reasonable, choosing patterns for accessories that might mix into a wardrobe of neutrals and limiting myself to two projects.  There was a Carlisle scarf with a central color of chartreuse sock yarn.  I found enough sock yarn in my stash to complete the scarf.

Then there was a variegated sport-weight bfl that was a riot of green, yellow, and brown.  I bought some lovely black Anzula Cricket to use with it and produced a Marley shawl that is appalling on the wrong side.

However, the right side is moderated by the black.  Since I only wear such large shawls at home on chilly days, I find the bright colors cheerful on a gloomy day.  The yarn itself is lovely--very soft and comfortable.  If I tire of the colors, I could always dye it black.

I worried while I was knitting these projects that I was wasting my effort.  Now that they are completed, I am happy with them.  I am also happy that they took these yarns out of my stash.

Although these are only two projects, they were crucial in my destashing plan. They took it from a mere reduction of the quantity to more nearly a complete clearing of stashed yarn.  I suddenly became more determined to eliminate my stash.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Finishing up the 2016 knitting

I've always been susceptible to the swings of fashion.  Style trends have an immediate impact on my purchases.  However, when a trend impacts my yarn purchases, it takes longer to show up in my wardrobe--like years longer.  This delay is caused by two factors: first, the time it takes to knit a garment; and second, the task of disposing of the out-of-fashion yarn I own.  Although knitting a wearable item usually doesn't take more than a month or two, using or disposing of yarn I've bought and not used immediately can take years, significantly affecting my desire to be on-trend.

Since my knitting production was being slowed down by a stash of yarn that was old, out-of-date or otherwise not to my liking, I determined to get rid of it.  Some, I knitted up, finishing up hats to match mittens, knitting accessories from yarn left over from sweater projects, and restyling unsatisfactory items. 

First, there was a hat to match those whimsical mittens.  Years ago, inspired by the cover of a Vogue Knitting issue, I worked up a mitten.  It sat as a sort of art piece for years until I decided upon the design of its mate.  The first mitten, in the code of the design, bore the message: I (eye) love (heart) to (II) knit.  The second mitten was graced with I love wool.  I had enough red yarn left over to pair with some worsted weight angora for a similar, if not matching, hat.  There's also a cowl, but it is even less acceptable than the hat.  However, that was one long-planned project done and one small bit of yarn used.  There's more photos of the mittens in this earlier post.

Then there was a cowl to match the hat I knitted when the brioche craze hit. I was happy enough with the hat knitted from leftover sock yarn that I went out and bought yarn for a cowl at the next wool festival.  The yarn is premium alpaca and a joy to touch and wear.

Next, I ripped out an unsatisfactory edging on a shawl and knit a new, softer and simpler one.

Lastly, I knit a stranded hat and cowl set out of yarn left over from another sweater. 
All these final finishing up type projects nearly complete the clean up of my stash.  Encouraged by the result, I planned to completely use or dispose of all the old yarn.  "NO MORE STASH." I proclaimed.

Then nature threw me a curve ball that I turned into a home run.  Never mind that the referee called it a foul, I still hit it out of the park.  I will explain in the next post.